Sunday, September 7, 2014

April 21, 2014 - Cashing in on the "Old People Discount"

Lynn O'Neal
I started running at age 46 while living in Fulton, Mississippi. Since then I have been blessed with a great network of running friends who have encouraged me to keep improving.

I ran Huntsville’s Rocket City Marathon in 2011 and missed qualifying for Boston by about six minutes with a time of 4:01. With more intense training and lots more encouragement, I returned to Rocket City in 2012 and qualified with a time of 3:48:38. I tell people I got the “old people discount” because in between I had crossed over into the 50 year old age bracket. I don’t mind: I will take all the time the BAA will give me!

My emotions ranged from excitement to trepidation as my husband and I flew up to Boston. This being my first Boston Marathon experience, I was scared, not really knowing what to expect. Fortunately I was with a strong contingent of veteran female runners from Mississippi, and these friends had prepared me as much as they could beforehand. For that I am truly thankful.

A race number four years and several miles in the making...

With the North Mississippi contingent...
...together, ready to run!
Waiting for the bus, BigFoot and I are dressed
for Boston's post-Easter parade.
The morning of the marathon we headed out to meet the buses and take the ride to Hopkinton. The Athletes’ Village was packed and the port-o-potty lines went on forever!! Before long we were lining up in our corrals to start the race. I was amazed at the number of people lining the streets and sitting on rooftops. My energy level was high as the race began.

Long lines in Hopkinton allow plenty of time for phone calls...
One of the highlights of this race was the amazing fans. I slapped so many hands along the way. I really tried to slap hands with as many children as possible: their smiles were amazing. The noise level along the route was really loud, and the crowds just pulled me along.

Due to the down hills, I actually went out faster than I had planned. I passed the half way point at 8:13 pace, well ahead of my qualifying average back in Huntsville. However, by the time I reached the Newton hills, I was starting to have leg cramps. As a result, I was about 15 minutes slower over the second half of the course.

At one point I was stopped in my tracks and grabbed the railing. The people along the route gently but firmly told me to not stop and to keep going. I had to dig deep but I kept going.

My running friends had told me to watch for the famous Citgo Sign. When you see that landmark you are almost done. What a relief when it came into view!!

I did make a trip to the medical tent after I crossed the finish line. My leg cramps were that bad. Eventually, I was able to walk out, get my medal and find my sweet husband. I needed a hug. But, I had done it: I had completed the 2014 Boston Marathon, and even better, re-qualified for 2015.

Lynn O’Neal
Fulton, Mississippi

For more personal accounts of the 2014 Boston marathon, click here.

All our most recently posted stories can be found on the BOSTONLOG homepage.